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“Justification consists in the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ” 

– John Calvin, Inst., 3.11.2

Obama and Christianity

President Obama was in New Mexico yesterday, when a woman asked him, “”Why are you a Christian?” His response was lengthy so I will highlight a few passages of personal interest.

“And I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful and we’re flawed and we make mistakes, and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God.”

I find it encouraging that a Politician would speak so candidly about their faith, especially in this political climate. It seems people want to minimize the thought of sins and a Holy God. Though as a Calvinist, the term “achieve” would not be one I was use, but so far so good.

“But we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and that their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own.  And that’s part of what makes this country what it is.”

Here is where it gets fuzzy. I realize the President is a liberal, not only in politics but in faith. Though he did not state it, I would  venture to say President Obama might even believe in the idea of multiple pathways to God. I might be reading into this, but it did bring up a specific subject that is constantly coming up where I work: Moral relativism. For some reason in our culture, it’s taboo to claim absolutism when it comes to salvation. Relativism is the champion of the day. “That’s true for you but not for me”, even if these opposing views contradict each other.

President Obama had a wonderful opportunity to proclaim, not for him  only but for all, the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ..

“”I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” – John 14:6

..or so this poll shows.

It’s not shocking that Americans don’t know some basics in religion, including their own. You are talking about a country who’s most popular preacher is Joel Osteen and the two fastest growing denominations are Roman Catholic and Latter-Day Saints (Mormons).

This survey isn’t shocking considering how church attendance is so low, around 40% attend 2-4 times a month, and even much less read the bible, in the case of Christianity, daily/weekly.

Altar calls

Just a short post on altar calls. I do not understand them. Why do churches insist on using altar calls, or invitations, at the end of a sermon? To make matters worse, for me, is the mood music that goes with them. I believe this is nothing more than an emotional plea to make a “decision” for Christ. This can lead to false conversions, which I have seen.

Look to Peter for biblical use of Law and Gospel (Acts 2). Peter uses the Law to convict sinners and then preaches the Gospel to save them, those appointed to eternal life.

And another thing regarding always preaching a sermon with this end goal of invitations. If the passage addresses these matters, meaning the Gospel, then great. The preacher can use it to proclaim Christ and him crucified for your sins. If this regenerates a sinner in the pews, wonderful! However, I believe Sundays should be used to edify the Saints of God, not to convert sinners. That work should be done during the week.

Just my thoughts.

What do these two have in common? Nothing, unless you are a writer from the Daily Iowan. Apparently Shay O’Reilly believes that the doctrine of Total Depravity, among other things, was a factor in the sex scandal of Pastor Eddie Long..

“Calvinism, with its focus on the inherent inferiority of man and salvation only through divine grace, is the progenitor of the American Baptists. Faced with the suffering and evil of the world, John Calvin claimed, we understand the necessity of a divine savior…The belief in her or his own wretchedness enslaves an individual more thoroughly than any threat of violence. If you are inherently sinful and the world is cast as nothing but evil, what right is there to reject the authority offering you salvation? And if that authority is actually a predator, wearing the cloak of a shepherd and claiming that he knows what God wants, how would you know? How could you refuse?”

This is just completely laughable. Pastor Long is a pastor preaching the prosperity Gospel, not the Doctrines of Grace. He is more interested in fleecing his flock with the promises that God wants them happy and rich. It’s not the doctrine, it’s the people. Pastor Long is as Christian as this writer is Reformed (Calvinist).

The Reformed faith does teach in the total depravity of man. Meaning that sin has affected all parts of the unbeliever: body, soul, mind and heart.This state has caused an inability, or desire, to seek after God. It’s only after the regeneration by the Holy Spirit that can cause Faith. But this is the good news. If the pastor, Scott Gaskill, Shay mentioned didn’t say this after preaching the Law, and maybe he since Shay left, then he’s a bad teacher as well.

Epic Fail for Shay.

“We have not the least hesitation to admit what Paul strenuously maintains, that all, without exception, are depraved and given over to wickedness. Therefore, while, we all labor naturally under the same disease, those only recover health to whom the Lord is pleased to put forth his healing hand. The others whom, in just judgment, he passes over, pine and rot away til they are consumed. And this is the only reason why some persevere to the end, and others, after beginning their course, fall away. Perseverance is the gift of God, which he does not lavish promiscuously on all, but imparts to whom he pleases. If it is asked how the difference arises – why some steadily persevere, and others provide deficient in steadfastness, we can give no other reason than that the Lord, by his mighty power, strengthens and sustains the former, so that they perish not, while he does not furnish the same assistance to the latter, but leaves them to be monuments of instability.”

Christian fundamentalism

In the last week, I heard this term used in a few occasions and thought I would express my thoughts. I often hear this term being used on “evangelicals”. I believe it’s usually used as a pejorative instead of conveying anything meaningful. Usually detractors use it for Christians who take the bible “literally”, believe in a 7 day creation story, young earth creationist, etc. The term is not used in any meaningful way. Now on to the two examples..

The first example occurring in the cesspool that is known as the internet forum. An atheist poster, making a comment on a Christine O’Donnell thread, ridiculed Christian posters, including O’Donnell, as Christian fundamentalists who interpret the Bible “word-for-word literally”. Taking the bait, I responded with the following:

“There are no Christians that believe in scripture “word-for-word literally” unless you think Christians think Jesus is literally a door, a loaf of bread, that Jesus came to save sheep, or a gate that sheep go through.”

Of course there was no meaningful reply, as I expected.

The second example is a

from a internet radio show called Fighting for the Faith hosted by Chris Rosebrough. It’s an excellent show in which he, among other things, reviews sermons. In this particular case, it’s a “sermon” preached by Jay Bakker, who is a progressive Christian and the son of Jim and Tammy Faye. In it he speaks about a conversation with a friend regarding the virgin birth and the resurrection. His friend, Vince, said that it does not matter if the resurrection happened. Jay responds back with, “If the resurrection is a lie, then it’s all over. I quit”. He goes on to see that he seems now that Christianity is more than “concrete facts”, then goes onto talking about the love of Christ. This is the problem when Sola Scriptura is denied…

In one of the most famous passages of the New Testament, 1 Corthianians 15, Paul discusses this matter, the Resurrection. He states in that whole chapter that we are still dead in our sins if Christ is not raised and are a people most to be pitied. Dead in our sins! What else do we know of God, of Jesus, of anything, other than what God has revealed to us. You can not deny something as central as the Resurrection and still claim to have faith. This is irrational. It’s this idea of you can’t know truth. And if you do claim that God has spoken, the people try to poison the well using pejoratives like fundamentalists.

Let us remember the words of Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:13-14).

“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

 Believing in what God has revealed in the Scriptures, and not picking and choosing which to believe, is not being a fundamentalists, it’s being a true believer in the living God